CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA, Hyde Park, N.Y. --
In 1946, the Culinary Institute of America was established to provide vocational training for military personnel returning from World War II. Now, more than 60 years later, the CIA continues to train service members along with civilians to provide them with the tools and knowledge they’ll need to become successful in the continually growing food industry.
After winning Marine Corps Installations – West Chow Hall of the Quarter competition Feb. 18, Cpl. Kevin M. Johnson and Cpl. Ian J. Sanders, food service specialists with 14 Area chow hall, Food Service Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, were granted seats to attend the CIA in Hyde Park, N.Y., from March 30 - May 7.
During a 6-week course at one of the world’s most premier culinary colleges, the Marines will receive the internationally recognized Pro Chef Level I Certification. They will cook a variety of foods that are served in restaurants from around the world.
“During the course, Marines will learn so many techniques on preparations, presentations and time management,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Dante P. Solis, food service technician, MCI-W. “Whatever they learned in this institute, the Marine will have a chance to do it in the mess hall and train his/her subordinates.”
While at the initial occupation school for food service specialists, Marines learn the standard operations and procedures that are conducted daily to effectively and efficiently work in a military dinning facility. Here, the Marines build on those skills along with others to help them pursue a successful career in the culinary arts.
“While attending our specialty school at Ft. Lee, Va., food service specialists learn the basics in cooking,” said Johnson, 23, from Buna, Texas. “At the CIA, Marines learn more in depth and advanced cooking through an extremely experienced teaching staff in the culinary arts.”
The Pro Chef Level I Certification offered by the CIA is no easy task to earn. The students enrolled in the class are constantly being challenged and tested by professional chefs.
“The CIA has rigorous stan-dards,” said Tama A. Murphy, director of certification and training, CIA. “If someone receives a credential from the CIA, you know they have earned it.”
The CIA is staffed with well kn-own and respected chefs from around the world with many of them having more than 30 years in the culinary business.
“The faculty who work here are some of the best in the industry,” said Murphy. “Their education, experience and credentials are amazing. They take pride and joy in passing their knowledge on to others.”
On average, the CIA staff in-structs more than 100 service members a year throughout all branches of the armed forces in completing the Pro Chef Level I Certification.
“After I complete this culinary course, I’ll have an overall better understanding of the culinary arts,” said Sanders, 22, from Mount Pleasant, Mich. “The chefs here have expanded my cooking knowledge through new methods and techniques.”
During an average day while attending the Pro Chef Level I Certification course, Marines start the morning off with a 2-hour lecture from chefs who discuss the food industry, cooking tips and the recipes the students will be performing for the day. After receiving the recipes and advice on how to cook them, Marines travel to one of the school’s many kitchens to claim their food and start cooking. While students prepare the food, chefs roam around the kitchens answering questions, offering advice and providing demonstrations. After the students finish cooking, the dishes are displayed for inspection and then consumed. After eating, the students clean up their working area and return to the classroom where the chefs critique the Marines on their performance for that day.
“Attending this course is a great opportunity for me to better myself in the culinary profession,” Johnson said. “I’ll take away self improvement for not only while in the Marine Corps, but when I depart from the military and continue my culinary career as a civilian.”
Along with earning Pro Chef Le-vel I Certification, the Marines receive certificates of completion for the classes they took to include Cooking Principles I, Soups Stocks and Sauces, Accompaniments and Side Dishes, and Breakfast and Brunch Cookery. They’ll receive 19.8 continuing education credits that equates to 190 hours of class along with a sense of pride in their growth and development as chefs in the armed forces.